BAMcinemaFest 2014 Brings An Impressively Diverse Slate To Brooklyn

Featured Critic; New York City, New York
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The sixth edition of BAMcinemaFest, screening at BAM Rose Cinemas and the Steinberg Screen at BAM Harvey Theater from June 18 through June 29, brings a typically diverse and eclectic selection of features, shorts, and retrospective screenings to downtown Brooklyn. This year's festival includes some particularly high-profile New York premieres and events.

BAMcinemaFest opens with Richard Linklater's grand, epic narrative experiment Boyhood, which charts a young man and his family's life over 12 years, shot during exactly that period of time with the same cast. The centerpiece presentation is the New York premiere of Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho's English-language debut Snowpiercer. Other notable festival offerings include the world premiere of the new restoration of Manfred Kirchheimer's 1981 documentary/city symphony Stations of the Elevated, a veritable time capsule which featured the grafitti art that used to adorn New York's subway trains in the 70s and 80s. Les Blank, another great documentarian who passed away last year, gets a tribute on June 19 with an outdoor screening of three of his most famous short films, including the (in)famous Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. The festival will also have the New York premiere of David Wain's They Came Together, a parody/homage/comic deconstruction of romantic comedies starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler.

BAMcinemaFest closes with a classic film by a filmmaker very closely associated with Brooklyn: Spike Lee. The 25th anniversary presentation of his seminal Do the Right Thing will screen on June 29 with Spike Lee, along with his cast and crew, appearing in person to discuss the film. This also kicks off a Spike Lee retrospective that will begin right after the festival ends.

Click through the gallery below for my reviews of 12 of this year's selections. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit BAM's website.


An extraordinary experiment in cinema narrative, Boyhood charts the progress of its protagonist, Mason (Ellar Coltrane, in a remarkable debut performance) from the ages of 6 through 18. Shot semi-secretly over the course of 12 years, from 2002 to 2013, Boyhood shares some similar aspects with other narrative and documentary films, such as Michael Apted’s “Up” series, Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel films, and Linklater’s own Before Sunrise trilogy. But what Linklater does here with Boyhood is truly unprecedented, in which marking the passing time and seeing the characters age authentically without artifice is intensely wedded to a consistent, sustained narrative. Linklater admirably refuses to graft pre-fabricated drama onto his scenario, showing us that ordinary life itself is full of compelling drama.

(June 18, 7pm)

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BAMcinemaFest 2014